Could you briefly explain your current role?
I work as the Managing Director of a PR company specialising in the education sector, so lots of my clients are universities, colleges and schools. We have a team of 20 staff delivering great PR campaigns and communications analysis. I have overall business responsibility and lead on sales and commercial income - I never thought when I was at Leeds Trinity that I would be a skilled and confident business person, but here I am!
How did studying at Leeds Trinity help you with your career? Everything about my time at Leeds Trinity (or TASC as it was known then) gave me an edge; the placements, the knowledge and encouragement from tutors, the professional interests and passion of fellow students, the creative environment including the television studios and radio studios, and space for personal discovery and reflection. Even my drama club experience built up my confidence as a 'performer'!
What did you most enjoy about your course?All the lecturers were fantastic – the Media lecturers all came from relevant professional backgrounds and delivered highly engaging and practical sessions and made you feel that you were really setting the ground for your professional careers and the English lecturers had terrific passion for literature.
What I really enjoyed the most was the placements - I had three in my three years, working for newspapers and press offices to gain terrific professional insight and established my entry into a future media career. At the time, to have three such dedicated placements for lengthy spells was rare in higher education.
What do you most fondly remember about Leeds Trinity?Two things especially stand out when I remember my time at Leeds Trinity. The warm friendly 'feel' of the place and a small student community that mixed well across all subjects and years. There was fantastic campus experience on All Saints Day that's especially memorable.
The second thing is the mix of professional and academic subjects. I studied Public Media and English and always wanted to go into journalism, while also retaining my love of English literature. The location also made it a special experience; just out of Leeds city centre and with connection to surrounding cities, countries and coastline. I loved the Yorkshire snow and the trips out into the moors!
You won an EMAP Award for Journalism in 1988 – can you tell us a little more about this?I was working for the North Herts Gazette and Express at this time - as a trainee reporter covering all sorts of news issues. I had a weekly column called Shaw's Corner, named after the nearby home of George Bernard Shaw, and used this to report on various trends and issues, so mostly in-depth features. The award was Trainee Reporter of the Year and was for my feature writing - at that time unleaded petrol was just coming into use, so I did a particular piece on the take-up of unleaded fuel among the petrol stations of north Hertfordshire.
What would be your dream job?I'm in it now! Running an exciting PR company devoted to clients in the education and skills sector. I have a fantastic team of 20 highly talented people and great clients. The plan is to grow the business internationally and become a broader Education Consultancy, along the lines of a Management Consultancy.
What would make this even more ideal?Having an office somewhere constantly warm, like Florida!
Who is your hero and who would you most like to work with?My real hero is the former BBC Education Correspondent - Mike Baker (who sadly died recently). He had a terrific ability to absorb highly complex information like government policy extremely quickly, and make simple sense of this to the everyday world. I did get the chance to work with him - but not for very long. He stands out as among the best of the specialist journalists. Other than Mike - there's no one else.
What is your most amusing story from your career to date?When I first joined 'PR' from journalism I did the usual tour of duty in stunt PR. I had to dress up as a Dalek and travel round the streets promoting National Science Week. In one ugly town centre episode, the local youths decided to set up on the Dalek, push it over and shove chips down the extermination barrel. That was my PR career low point!
What is the best piece of advice you'd give to a student wishing to embark on a career in Journalism?Get as much experience as possible - at every opportunity. Seek out contacts, try and get placements whether they're short or long term and show enthusiasm and initiative. It's your proof of commitment and determination that will attract employers - as well as a strong degree from Leeds Trinity.